There’s no question that the recession has had an impact locally. The use of social services are up, unemployment is high, and many local business with deep roots in the community are feeling the pinch.
Demand for food assistance has surged in Cook County in the last year. Thirty-three percent of the county’s school aged children are on the free and reduced price lunch program. With local unemployment at an 18 year high, organizations that offer assistance with food are increasingly busy.
Affordable housing has been an issue in Cook County for years whether it’s finding a secure rental or buying a home. There’s a discrepancy between incomes and what the average home price is in Cook County. The average wage falls behind both Lake and St. Louis County at just $23,000 a year.
It is no secret. Cook County is a beautiful place. With the boundary waters and Lake Superior, the environment is spectacular. But there is another side to this place, beyond all the natural beauty. One where families struggle to get by—a side where people choose between paying for healthcare and putting food on the table.